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Exercise just ten minutes a day makes a difference in cardiovascular health

By Connie Wan, P.h.D | November 26th, 2018

One hallmark of modern technology is the creation of sedentary lifestyle. Many of us sit in front of the computer all day working and typing away.  Coincidentally, occurrence of metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases has skyrocketed.  Of course, modern sedentary lifestyle is the first to get blamed. However, I have always wondered that sedentary lifestyle is not in conflict of physical activity.  We can work on the desk eight or ten hours a day and hit the gym regularly.  We don’t have to scavenge for food in the forest in order to get the physical exercise, right?

It seems that scientific researchers agree.  A study published in in PLOS ONEreported that it is not the amount of time spent sitting still that matters; rather it is the daily amount of physical activity that is crucial to a person’s health.

Researchers from the Örebro University, Sweden, studied women over 65 as they are among the least active groups of the population, at the same time as they run a high risk of developing cardiovascular disease.  120 women took part in the Örebro study. They had a medical examination and over the course of one week, their physical activity was measured using an accelerometer.  The results showed that replacing sedentary activities with a 10-min time block of medium physical activities such as a brisk walk was associated with a decrease in waist circumference and decrease in metabolic risk score indicative of cardiovascular health.

The researchers concluded that lack of physical activities rather than sedentary time per se increases the risk of developing metabolic diseases. Based on the findings, the researchers recommended increasing amounts of physical activity in order to promote a favorable metabolic health profile in older women.

The results may well apply to other groups since they are in line with a meta-analysis of previous research based on a million adult men and women, which indicated that physical activity rather than sedentary behavior affects the risk of mortality.  This means that, if one person is jogging while another is only doing less strenuous activities, the first person runs a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease than the second — regardless of the extent of their sedentary activities.

Thanks for reading.

Journal Reference:Andreas Nilsson, Britta Wåhlin-Larsson, Fawzi Kadi. Physical activity and not sedentary time per se influences on clustered metabolic risk in elderly community-dwelling womenPLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (4): e0175496 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0175496

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